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'77 La Pavoni Europiccola

This one took forever to complete.  Sometimes the smallest details can delay a project for weeks.  Especially when they include getting parts from Europe in a pandemic.  


But it's finally done.  A '77 Europiccola.  The last year of the three position switch era, and arguably the end of the "real" 2nd generation.  At least when it comes to old school Pavoni style.   They became a little more "vanilla" after this, with mostly chrome and monochrome paint bases, and overall just less funky Italian.


We had to fix the neon pilot light (yes, it's neon, not an LED!) because it had burned out after 43 years.  We coulda left it dark, but the glowing little neon light is one of the really charming features of this model, so we couldn't at least "not try" to bring it back to life.  And luckily, we did, and turns out you can actually still buy neon pilot lights!  


The "hammertone" base is pretty nice, but does have a few spots where the paint has chipped off, as you can see in the photos.  Most of those spots, as usual with the hammertone models, are along the bottom edge (and thus under the rubber sub-base, which hides most of it from normal viewing.) 


Since the base was not perfect, we decided to sweeten the deal and add a manometer.  We'd already updated the heating element with a brand new "modern style" stainless version and boiler flange adapter, so if you ever need a new element in the future you can just bolt one in, instead of searching (probably in vain) for an original style "screw on" brass element. 


It also comes with a new chrome cup grid, and new stainless tamper with a silicone matt.   


And of course we did all the "usual," new seals, cleaning, descaling, piston throw adjustment, etc.  We were so far into this one at the end we decided, "Why not add a gauge?"


So all that has added to the final cost, but we think makes it a pretty good value, and genuinely unique compared to other vintage Europiccolas you're likely to find this month.   Or any month. 


And with the recent price spikes on places like ebay for crappy unrestored used levers, you could argue it's a downright deal.  (We're still not sure what's going on with the vintage lever price inflation.   It's not just that "everyone's home making espresso" because of the 'Vid.  And it's not just that people are "re-discovering" levers and analog espresso.  It's not even that James Hoffman reviewed a Pavoni, and as with the Cremina, created his own vortex of market mania surrounding these for "rich tech kids" who apparently never realized vintage levers were cool until he told them!  It's all of those things, and more...   Even this website might even have contributed a little.  Which is a disturbing thought!) 


Anyway, why add a manometer?  Well, as noted before, with all "dual element" Pavonis you're flying blind as far as water temperature goes.  Which is fine.  Once you become one with your machine, and get to know it like an old girlfriend, it becomes intuitive about when you want to pull your shot.  Some people are drive to get more "precise," and do stuff like attach plastic temp strips to the group bell, or digital electric probes.  But they look awful, wreck the vibe, and really, are still only "representational" when it comes to the actual temp of the water hitting your puck.   (The temp of the metal outside your group is not the water temp that is pulling your shot.)


Yup, it's true.  Having a pressure gauge may not be telling you exactly how hot the water is either, but it's a much more aesthetically pleasing way to get the same "representational" measure of the boiler water temp.   It doesn't need to be laboratory grade accurate, as much as it needs to be "consistent."  So you can pull the lever at about the same point in the heat cycle every time.  You just need to know the needle is at a certain point when it gets to a certain pressure (pressure "equals" boiler water temp) every time you use it.  That way you can play around, experiment, and eventually get a confident sense of the differences water temperature is making when pulling your shots. 


So no, you don't "need" a manometer on a Europiccola. 


It's just nice.


These mid '70s models aren't super rare.  This period was clearly one of the high points of La Pavoni sales.  They sold a lot of them.  But we still love finding them this nice, with the base "hammertone" paint still in mostly good original condition, the chrome still shiney, and the components, like the group bore and lever holes and the steam valve, not "worn out."  It's the kind of "low use" machine we try to "start" with now, before sinking all the time and money into rebuilding. 


This machine runs on the "cool" side of where these tend to run (which is GOOD!)  These little Europiccola boilers are not made for entertaining all your friends (at least if everyone wants shots) becuase they get hot, and/or run out of water before you can serve a room full of people.  They were clearly built for individuals pulling a couple shots before running off to work, or settling down with some vinyl on the stereo.   If you're thinking about one of these, you should think, "you, and your significant other,"  not "house party."


So what we ended up with this '77, is a very presentable, classic hammertone, dual element Europiccola, fully rebuilt, with many new parts, and "customized" with the manometer.  Not likely to find something like this, near this price, on ebay.   


'77 La Pavoni Europiccola

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